Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Nonfiction - the "other" inspiration in my life


Happy Wednesday All! Time for another Blog Chain round. Sandra started this chain with this topic:

We all know it's important to read fiction if you want to write fiction, but what about reading non-fiction? How much non-fiction do you read? What kinds of non-fiction books do you read, and why? Has reading non-fiction influenced your fiction writing style?

As most of you know, I am actually a nonfiction writer in addition to the work I do in fiction. And yes, I read a ton of nonfiction. Most of the time the nonfiction is related to whatever nonfiction project I am working on, as I typically read the competitive titles as well as other books for research. But, I also read a ton of nonfiction as research for my fiction.

Most of the fiction-related nonfiction I read is not related to writing craft. It is usually related to the topic I am writing about. For example, when I wrote Lacrimosa I read the nonfiction news accounts of Peeter Stubbe's killing spree from the 16th century (it was featured in Lacrimosa at one point). I also read up on angel mythology and religion to contribute to my world building. For Transcend, I read nonfiction books about New York's gilded age and mental health institutions of the early 19th century.

Currently, I am working on a book related to some occult research conducted the early 20th century in Germany and Russia, so you know I will be reading some books related to that - all in the name of research.

The truth is, I am in information hound. I love learning for the sake of learning. Now that I am a writer, I get to fulfill that need more and more.

The last part of the topic asked if the nonfiction had influenced our writing style. Although I stated that I don't typically read writing craft books, I have read a couple that have profoundly changed my approach to writing:

The Artist's Way and Save the Cat.

Both of these books significantly impacted my fiction writing, helping me become a better storyteller.

What about you? Do you read nonfiction?

For more on this topic, check out Sandra's from yesterday, and Katrina's post tomorrow.

5 comments:

  1. I definitely read lots of books on the writing craft. Not so much nonfiction, though. Most of the nonfiction I read has to do with either developing a fictional story or stirring my creative juices to get a story started.

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  2. My first choice of reading material is non-fiction. Don't tell, okay? I mean here I am writing fiction, reading fiction, commenting on fiction, but my heart belongs to non-fiction. Well-written non-fiction totally sweeps me away.

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  3. I like to read only some non-fiction. Sorry, just how I am. It has to totally and completely grab me. I read to escape. Non-fiction is not always an escape for me.

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  4. Ooh, I've never read The Artist's Way. I'll have to check that one out. Thanks for the recommendations. My one beef about non-fiction is that once you've read a few on a particular subject, they all begin to sound the same. Okay, two beefs. I hate it when I start a how-to book that spends the first half selling me their book/method/whatever. I already bought the book. Now I want knowledge, and it's sooo annoying whatever formula some non-fic writers are following that tells them to sell, sell, sell for the first hundred pages. Many times now when I'm reading a health, parenting, or finance book, I'm secretly head-shouting, "Get to the point already!"

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  5. I always hear amazing things about Save The Cat and keep meaning to read it, but for some reason haven't yet managed to do it. I really should just buy a copy and then at least I know that I will get to it eventually.

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Thanks for your input!